Welcome to your new (unpaid) internship

Congratulations!

We would like to welcome you as one of our Fall 2013 Unpaid Interns. This is an exciting opportunity for you to gain professional experience, learn crucial “tricks of the trade” and begin your inevitable rise to the top.

Now you might be asking yourself, “isn’t it against the law for me to work for free?” Good question!  Well according to the U.S. Department of Labor:

“The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines the term “employ” very broadly as including to “suffer or permit to work.”  Covered and non-exempt individuals who are “suffered or permitted” to work must be compensated under the law for the services they perform for an employer.  Internships in the “for-profit” private sector will most often be viewed as employment, unless the test described below relating to trainees is met.  Interns in the “for-profit” private sector who qualify as employees rather than trainees typically must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over forty in a workweek.”

If you think you have been asked to do something that is against the FLSA regulations we encourage you to speak with our senior HR Intern, Julie, who is now the point person. Sure, she's only a year older than you, but she’s great!

Don’t mind Larry in accounting. He likes to give the new interns a hard time. He’s just angry because we have handed over most of his job duties to interns. Same goes for Carl in shipping, Kim in the mail room and Sandra in marketing.  Oh wait, actually we let Sandra go. "Right Sizing" we like to call it around here!

In light of the recent intern tragedies involving derogatory remarks made by Anthony Weiner’s spokesperson about campaign intern Olivia Nuzzi  and the incident involving Paul Ryan’s one-shoed, breakfast-burrito eating, sloppy drunk stalker, we have created this list of Dos and Don’ts to help you navigate the challenges of your new internship:

Do: Keep track of ALL your hours.

Don’t: Follow in the footsteps of former Black Swan interns who sued Fox Entertainment for not paying them. Remember no one likes a tattletale!

Do: Look professional, dress for success and bathe regularly.

Don’t: Be like that ungrateful Intern Xuedan Wang who sued the Hearst Corporation for violating federal state wage and hour laws for unpaid work she did at Harper’s Bazzar.

Do: Learn how to make a decent cup of coffee. That garbage you served yesterday tasted like Junk Water.

If you find yourself alone by the coffee station staring at the stain on the bottom of the coffee pot (as the newest on the team, this is your responsibility to clean) and thinking you have made a mess of your life by burying yourself in student loan debt only to end up working for free during the day and waiting tables at night, we’ve got just the thing to cheer you up!

After reading Millennials On Board, our top executives had our intern Dennis create a blog called Funny Intern Tales from the Internet.

Here’s the latest post, compiled from the comments section of a NY Times article on internships:

“There is a bar on 8th Avenue at which they have an interactive "Intern" shot. To celebrate my recent endeavors, a friend bought me said shot, and the bartender tied my hands together with a mouse cord, blindfolded me, "whipped" me and ordered me to get him a coffee, while I was told to find the shot glass with my mouth. When I finally got to the shot, it was some kind of vodka with tabasco in it.”

“I was an intern at several TV stations in Chicago. One of the women in my class was also an intern. She was a Nun. When she worked as an intern she wore regular clothing. She also wore a wedding ring (as in married to Christ). One day, we were in a meeting and she got into a very heated argument with one of the producers. After she stormed out of the room the producer said "I wonder how her husband can stand her."I said to him, "She's got a very forgiving husband."

“I'm a psychotherapist in Los Angeles. I interned (for free) to meet licensing requirements. Most gratifying was working at the Beverlywood Aftercare residential facility. It served psychotics, aged 18 - 30. I learned what I could never learn from a book or classroom. My supervisors and fellow interns were all in the milieu therapy environment together with the patients. We learned to recognize triggers in patients as well as fears and doubts in ourselves. We learned to grow more healthy, strong and empathic as we worked with this vulnerable and wonderful population of people who struggled to understand a world they couldn't fathom while living in an internal world we could only glimpse. I remember one young man. At the near close of our conversation I asked him if anything had happened during our talk that I didn't know about. He answered, "I thought you were strong and brave when the floor opened up at our feet and the fire erupted so close to your feet. You remained calm and steady as if it didn't bother you at all. That's why I trust you." These people remain in my heart as ongoing teachers. I treasure that internship."

Now we can’t cover everything here. You will no doubt encounter all sorts of exciting hurdles in your new position. You can always refer to the book "Total Internship Management" or the Intern Handbook we’ve given you which includes tips on how to handle everything from little mishaps to total meltdowns.

Welcome Aboard!

Sincerely,

Senior Intern in charge of Intern Recruitment

About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.

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